My last experience going through customs was pretty typical. I deplaned, walked endlessly through the airport, collected my bags and then madly ran to get a spot in line at customs. Sure, you can shorten your wait time if you bring only carry-on luggage or you are an extra fast runner, but overall the process definitely has room for improvement.
One option to speed through customs is signing up for the Global Entry program. Similar to TSA PreCheck, Global Entry expedites you through U.S. custom lines based on your pre-approved status. Offered through U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there is a multi-step approval process needed before your trip. It is available to U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents and accepted by a few other countries. It does have some restrictions for eligibility, including criminal convictions, outstanding warrants, or previous violations of immigration or custom regulations. If you are eligible, you can create an account on their Global Online Enrollment System (GOES), and complete the application. There is a $100 non-refundable fee required for each applications. From there, your application will be reviewed. If it is conditionally approved, you will then be instructed to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. Once fully approved, you can skip all processing lines, paperwork and significantly reduce your wait time!
The app Mobile Passport offers an alternative to the Global Entry program and is available at growing number of airports in the country. All you need to do is fill out the Customs and Border Protection form in the app on your mobile phone and enter your flight information and submit. Once this is complete, you will receive a electronic confirmation with a QR code and you can proceed to the line at customs indicated for “Mobile Passport Control”. Like the paper version of the form, the form in the app can be filled out for family members making traveling with kids just a tiny bit easier. As another benefit, it is free to use with no additional charges!
Whichever process you choose, you will make the customs process easier and less stressful. Use the comments below to tell us about your experiences using either Global Entry or Mobile Passport!